Walmart looks to airports as inspiration of new store layout

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Bentonville-based Walmart is getting inspiration from the airport terminal as it revamps the layout and signage of its stores to speed up shopping and better cater to smartphone-armed customers.

The nation’s largest retailer said that the look, which includes signs with bold dimensional typeface spotlighting sections, is currently in one store. It will be rolled out to 200 stores by early next year. It will add another 800 stores by early 2022.

“We were inspired by airport wayfinding systems as best-in-class examples of how to direct large groups of people,” Walmart said in a statement. “We developed simple yet thoughtful designs to replicate these navigation efficiencies, which will help us move customers through the store more quickly.”

The new design will feature signs with bold dimensional typeface spotlighting sections and  optimized product layout, bringing greater visibility to key items throughout the store, including dedicated in-store sections for electronics, toys, baby products and more.

“Today, our imagination becomes a reality as we unveil a completely new look and feel focusing on a digitally enabled shopping experience,” the statement noted. “Developed through a customer-centric lens, the design creates an elevated experience that appeals to shoppers through a sleek design aesthetic, a layout that spotlights products, and an end-to-end digital navigation that guides customers throughout their journeys.”

Walmart says it was working on a new store layout a year ago. But the pandemic accelerated those efforts as customers are increasingly focused on contactless shopping amid safety concerns.

Stores will include self-checkout kiosks as well as contactless payment solutions, including Walmart Pay, to limit contact between associates and customers. Select locations will also have Scan & Go to help customers manage their checkout directly.

“We’re always listening to our customers and innovating our in-store, online and mobile experiences to meet and exceed their expectations,” the statement noted. “We want their time with us to be enjoyable, and we’re working hard to create ways for them easily toggle between shopping channels – or use them together.

“By creating a system that acknowledges our app navigation from beginning to end, we create an optimized omni experience for both customers and associates.”

Walmart says the new concept has been tested in select stores, and the company is excited by the initial feedback from customers and associates. The design will be rolled out to more stores this fall and will continue to get customer and associate feedback and evolve the design accordingly.

By the end of this fiscal year, the experience will be in nearly 200 Supercenters as well as in select Health Centers and Neighborhood Markets, reaching close to 1,000 stores by next fiscal year, according to the statement.

This story included information from the Associated Press / Images via Walmart

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